Design thinking

Understanding wellbeing

Ulrika Ewerman & Anders Arnqvist

We all want to spend as little time as possible in a hospital waiting room. Health and wellbeing is both a physical and psychological matter, and it is important to us all. Preventative measures can make an important difference, so its important to know how to monitor our own health and look out for signals that we can act upon. What if we can design services that are accessible to all and tailored to meet everyone’s specific needs? Services that intercept, aid and educate people to better understand their own health and wellbeing- and how to spot early signs of illness. Services that encourage collaboration and improve our quality of life in the long run.

Smart textiles

What if…we could design a way to monitor individual wellness without interrupting our everyday lives? Support can come in many shapes and forms and the best interfaces are the ones that are not too demanding on the user. Smart textiles is a thriving area of development. By monitoring key values over a long period of time, it becomes easier to predict and act on changes in a person’s physical condition. Diagnosis is much easier as temporary anomalies are filtered out.

“I had my regular clothes fitted with sensors, to monitor my health. I can access the information to learn about how my behavior is affecting my health, and get real-time feedback on what I eat and do. So many diets and recommendations contradict one another, but this service can actually show me what happens to my body. I don’t have to go to the hospital or doctor as often and I feel much more secure. For example, if I’ve been sitting for too long, my socks send a small vibration to my ankle letting me know I have bad circulation and need to move my feet.”

Superior personal shopping

What if…we could design a trustworthy and personal service that allows people to communicate freely, by keeping all their valuable information ready at hand? Digital technology can increase legibility and ease the memory load. Just like today’s call back services, the service could cut down on endless waiting in line at shops.

“I use the service to contact my local pharmacy. It’s is so much easier not having to go there for every little thing, and they know my history and have all my prescriptions ready. Usually I talk to this girl Jenny, she knows me and I trust her recommendations. We can both see the same screen and so it’s really easy to use and understand. I can use the service with other stores too; I used it to buy a new freezer last year. The salesman could see my kitchen and even measure it through through the camera! He explained everything to me and I didn’t have to leave home.”

Doing things together from afar

What if…we could encourage people to do more physical activity, letting all people take part on equal terms? We could create a service that uses positive peer pressure to motivate people to exercise, or join in with different group activities such as book circles, volunteer work, or political activism. This service would allow active participation without having to be physically present.

“I go to the gym, but I enjoy the Zumba class most of all. I tried it once and have been participating every Monday. I see the instructor and everyone in the class on screen. I’ve gotten to know them all through this class even though we all live in different cities.”